This week marks the midpoint for my summer program. I have successfully completed my academic courses, Intensive Month of Spanish + Conflict Resolution. It’s a bittersweet moment. I am happy to be done with my classes, but I can no longer meet up with my wonderful friends. Most of them has returned to the U.S. Hopefully, we will meet up again in the near future.
Now, I want to reflect on my experiences during the first month here in Costa Rica. When I first arrived, I was terrified because I was in a new place with a new family, new school, and no friends. I was afraid reach out to people. However, I had to remind myself that I am here for a purpose–to learn a new culture and language, so I cannot continue to feel this way. When classes began, I started seeing usual faces, so that made things easier for me. I began to talk more and initiate conversations in Spanish. I was very proud because I am typically a shy person. I even learned a few Latin American dances!
During my Spanish course, I have learned so much about the language and myself. I have learned that I should be patient and do not worry about making mistakes. I was afraid that native speakers will laugh and judge me. I would stop myself from speaking, especially if I was very unsure of my wordings. One day, a friend told me that I needed to start speaking more because that is the best way to learn Spanish. Making mistakes is all part of the process. So, I had to stop worrying about speaking perfectly, and just do it. After following my friend’s advice, I realized that I was becoming more confident within myself. My speaking skills improved tremendously.
For my Conflict Resolution course, I have learned the appropriate way to manage a conflict through effective communication, self care/stress management, community building, and transformation of power. Prior to this course, I would purposely avoid conflict because I did not know how to handle it, and I do not like confrontation. Now, I know that conflict is inevitable, and I should use it as opportunity for growth. I might as well take the bull by its horn and deal with it.
Also, during this month, I have travelled to various cities. Costa Rica is a beautiful country!!! So many great places and things to see. My first excursion was to Arenal Volcano and LaFortuna with ISA (my program coordinators). We had the opportunities to do cayoning, horseback riding, and stay at Hotel Los Lagos. We visited a Coffee and Sugar Cane Plantation. Our tour guide made 100% sugar cane shots. It was very sweet, pretty much drinking pure sugar. During the next weekend, I visited Tamarindo.I stayed at a beachfort hotel with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. While in Tamarindo, I zip-lined through the rainforest, at least 400 ft in the air. It was pretty amazing. In the final weekends of June, I visited Monteverde and Jaco. Monteverde was more outdoor adventurous trip, and Jaco was a relaxing day trip at the beach. Costa Rica has alot to offer!
So far, I have enjoyed everything about Costa Rica. I am happy to end one chapter, and begin write a new one with my Service-Learning program. I am looking forward to my last few weeks in Costa Rica.